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Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer

BLOOMSBURY, a parish included within the borough of Finsbury, London, in the county of Middlesex, about 1 mile to the N.E. of St. Paul's. It formed part of the adjoining parish of St. Giles until 1730, when, on the erection of St. George's church, it was severed, and constituted an independent parish by authority of parliament.

Its present name, Bloomsbury, is supposed by some to be a corruption of Lomesbury, the name of a hamlet anciently standing on the spot, which was the site of the Royal Mews until the year 1534, when they were burnt down; others derive it from William Blemund, lord of the manor in the reign of Henry III. The parish contains the British Museum (which fronts Great Russell-street), Bloomsbury-square (originally called Southampton-square), Russell-square, Woburn-square, Torrington-square, and parts of Bedford and Brunswick squares. Bloomsbury-square has a statue of Charles James Fox, by Westmacott; and Russell-square has one of Francis, Duke of Bedford, by the same artist. These statues are placed at opposite extremities of Bedford-place, facing each other. Coward College, belonging to the Dissenters, is situated in Torrington-square. The north side of Bloomsbury-square was formerly occupied by Bedford House, which was erected by Inigo Jones. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of London, of the annual value of £700, in the patronage of the lord chancellor. The church, which was one of the 50 churches appointed by Act of Parliament in the reign of Queen Anne to be built within the bills of mortality, stands in Hart-street, near New Oxfordstreet. It was erected from designs by Hawksmoor, at a cost of £9,790, and was opened in 1731. It was dedicated to St. George, in compliment to his majesty, King George the First, whose statue surmounts the tower. The architecture is partly of the Tuscan, partly of the Corinthian order; but the steeple, an extraordinary structure, is an imitation of the tomb of Mausolus. The other livings are Christ Church, Woburn-square, and Bedford Chapel; the former of which is a perpetual curacy, of the value of £500, and in the patronage of the Rector of Bloomsbury. In Bloomsbury-street, besides Bedford Chapel, are the French Episcopal chapel and the new Baptist chapel, a large and handsome structure erected in 1848, from designs by J. Gibson. The charitable endowments of the parish consist chiefly of the Southampton almshouses, which have a revenue of about £380 per annum. Bloomsbury is the head of a County Court district, and contains the court-house and a savings-bank. Bloomsbury-square was originally called Southampton-square, in honour of the Earl of Southampton, who had a mansion there, which was taken down in 1800. Lady Russell spent her last days in it. Among the residents in the square have been Sir Hans Sloane, the founder of the British Museum; Richard Baxter, the eminent divine; the poet Akenside; Judge Mansfield; and the elder D'Israeli, who there wrote the "Curiosities of Literature." Sir Samuel Romilly, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Lord Tenterden, and Lord Loughborough resided in Great Russell-street. Among the important institutions located in this district are the Russell Literary Institution, established in 1808; the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy; the Royal Literary Fund; the Orthopædic Institution, &c. Soame Jenyns was born here in 1704, and Theodore Hook in 1788.

[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
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[Last updated 8 Oct 2003 by David Hawgood. ©2003]